'Shades of Blue' by Vic Mensa: A Media Analysis

[Verse 1]

Color of morning pee comin’ outta the sink/ It's 2016 who would think
Kids in America don't have clean water to drink
Like they cut the EBT, took 'em off of the link
I read a story about a woman with her daughter in Flint
She got lead poisoning from showers in the morning
When the governor switched out the pipes to bring the water in
To the city river cause he said they can't afford to get clean water
So now the poor people get the shorter end
Of the stick, ain't that some bullshit?
Shorty thirsty, he just bought his fourth fifth
It's lead in the water gun, he dying from a full clip
Now you've got toddlers drinking toxic waste
While the people responsible still ain't caught no case
I don't get it man, I just ain't wit it man
They got Damn Daniel distracting you on Instagram
Back again with the all-white media coverage
They do it over and over like remedial subjects
The people with the least always gotta pay the most
We the first to go when they deleting them budgets
Can a n*gga get his basic human rights?
Is that too much to ask, should I say it more polite?
And everybody broke so we in the same boat
But would they let that bitch sink if we was white?
It got me shades of blue.

[Hook]

Rain or shine, it's all blue, it's all blue
Ain't no sun, it's all blue, it's all blue
Purple haze, in a daze, it's all blue, it's all blue
Change gon' come, it's all you, it's all on you
It's all blue, all blue
It's all blue, all blue
The skies stay gray, around my way, around my way

[Verse 2]

Waking up to the morning sun in Detroit
I'll be with the people when they come for the boy
Everybody tryna be American Idols
My X-Factor is I'm the only one with The Voice
It's bigger than us, these kids listen to us
That's why I give 'em that truth cause they don't get it enough
We making bitches and hoes out our women too much
We can't trust ourselves, and we don't know who to trust
It ain't enough for police to wear body cams
Cause n*ggas still gettin tazed and body slammed
And cigarettes'll kill you on their own but they'll kill you for a cigarette, I honor Eric Garner fam'
I'm a part of him, he a part of me
I'm a prodigy in these Prada jeans
I'm tryna' make my partners a part of the election
So you ain't gotta presidential pardon me
And pardon me, but why is it that the darker must suffer?
How do we protect the culture from the vultures?
There's a Cold War every summer in the Chi
It's a snowball effect from the Cold War in Russia
But Vladimir Putin ain't in the hood recruitin'
And Derrick Rose ain't the only one out here shootin'
They set fire to their own squad cars
And a bitch on the news gon' blame it on the lootin'
Now here I am talking 'bout a revolution
And I can't even spare a dollar to the movement
But I'm in the strip club spending dollars on that movement
I guess we all got room for improvement

[Hook]

Rain or shine, it's all blue, it's all blue
Ain't no sun, it's all blue, it's all blue
Purple haze, in a daze, it's all blue, it's all blue
Change gon' come, it's all you, it's all on you
It's all blue, all blue
It's all blue, all blue
The skies stay gray, around my way, around my way

 

This song is one of my favorites because it has so much depth and touches on so many different flawed aspects of society that it is difficult to decide where to start. I could probably write 20 pages on this song in its entirety, but I’ll focus on the aspects I found to be most interesting and thought provoking for this assignment.

I want to first point out that this song is about the Flint water crisis (still happening) in Michigan – the opening line references the poor water quality by comparing it to that “morning pee” when you first wake up. Vic Mensa details the mayor’s insufficient funds and poor pipes as an excuse for the unclean water; the irony lie in the fact that the areas of Flint that are the most poverty-stricken are the ones with the unclean water while the more “affluent” areas are drinking Fiji (or something lol) – “The people with the least always gotta pay the most”, in this case, they pay with their lives or their children’s lives through lead poisoning (first verse).

My favorite line from this entire song is in the first verse – “Shorty thirsty, he just bought his fourth fifth/ It's lead in the water gun, he dying from a full clip” – because there is so much depth and so many things to analyze. Mensa again alludes to the lack of clean water so the thirsty individual buys another fifth to drink (alcohol) which makes me think of the early stages of alcohol dependency which is another issue altogether. The second part of this line has all sorts of baggage, from police brutality to the actual lead in the water, and I think it’s quite clever. The “thirsty” individual is assumed to die from lead, whether it be from the obvious (police brutality/killing with a pistol) to the subtlety of lead poisoning from his water supply – the double meaning from the word “lead” is intense.

The second verse touches on police brutality (“cigarettes'll kill you on their own but they'll kill you for a cigarette, I honor Eric Garner fam'”), the hypersexualization and degradation of women in our patriarchal society (“We making bitches and hoes out our women too much”), issues with Russia (“It's a snowball effect from the Cold War in Russia / But Vladimir Putin ain't in the hood recruitin'”), cultural appropriation (“How do we protect the culture from the vultures?”), and racism (“And pardon me, but why is it that the darker must suffer?”), to name a few. Vic Mensa uses these statements in his song to inspire listeners to ask questions and to think about what is happening in the society around them. Music is an effective tool to get a message across to a large amount of people because it is so easily transferred and publicized, especially with more well-known artists. 

Overall, this song touches on many topics that need to be heard and understood in another light, with the first verse drawing attention to the water epidemic in Flint and the second verse follows up by drawing attention to the institutionalized racism that may have contributed to the idea that clean water pipelines for a poor area in Michigan, where many are people of color, were not a necessity.